How could Stereophile's equipment reviews be improved? The listed choices are for your convenience; use the "Comments" box to make other suggestions.

How could <I>Stereophile</I>'s equipment reviews be improved? The listed choices are for your convenience; use the "Comments" box to make other suggestions.
More budget gear
13% (30 votes)
More mid-priced gear
20% (47 votes)
More exotic gear
4% (9 votes)
More photos of gear
4% (10 votes)
More bench tests
1% (2 votes)
More side-by-side comparisons
13% (30 votes)
More three-way (or more) comparisons
27% (62 votes)
More electronic and acoustic theory
3% (8 votes)
More consideration of compatibility with associated gear
9% (22 votes)
More emphasis on reliability
2% (5 votes)
More emphasis on upgradability
1% (3 votes)
Mention manufacturer's track record with similar products
2% (4 votes)
Total votes: 232

A continuation of last week's question. Equipment reviews are <I>Stereophile</I>'s bread and butter. Do they strike a good balance between technical details and subjective impressions? Are the measurements, charts, and graphs useful to you?

Dan Landen's picture

There's probably more of us out here that are looking for great budget equipment. How many people can afford to spend 30,000 clams on a new D/A convertor, or even 5,000. It's much more realistic to look at equipment that costs more along the lines of the traditional consumer stereo equipment. Though I have enjoyed reading reviews of some of that stuff, I'm like a kid in a Godiva chocolate store! I like the last idea in the choices, to mention the manufacturers track record with similar products, that would be great!'s picture

shorter reviews,but more of them. The thing I like best about your competior FI, is the short reviews. Short but to the point.

J.L.  Oivier's picture

Your last survey tells us how Fi Magazine was wrong to emphasize music and interviews in the beginning, instead of equipment reports, commercially speaking. For example, at Borders in Chicago, Fi was always displayed on the wrong shelf. (Same thing is going to happen to Audio-Video Interiors: it is going to show up with kichens and baths or Elle Decoration.) I used to take a whole pile of Fi at Borders and stack them with Stereophile, over and over again. Now they don't even sell Fi at Borders anymore. Now, here is how I read Stereophile. I always start with my favorite reviewer, if he is reviewing a big piece of equipment. Then I go to the editorial: "As We See It." Then "The Final Word." Then I read all of "Industry Update" (I love it). Check "AudioMart" in case they have a Genesis 200 selling for $4999. Read "Analog Corner" because it's fun to read. Last. I read "Record Reviews" and interviews. I have to say that your magazine is less well written and personal that it used to be. Things like "highly recommended" show up all over. T.J. Norton now writes mostly in Guide to Home Theater, Martin Colloms in Hi-Fi News & Record Review. I miss the time when John Atkinson used to oversee the equiment reports. Stereophile was more fun.

Christopher Wright's picture

I have ceased my subscription due to the "clubby" editorial standpoint that has prevailed in the past 2-3 years. Atkinson, Phillips (a one-time favorite of mine), and Tellig have become too ubiquitous, other reviewers too scarce (Damkroger is not a great addition, though the ousting of Kostanovich was not a moment too soon). The primary staleness of your publication---particularly its focus on too elite a level of gear---stems from your reviewers' "been there, done that" attitude regarding gear that most subscribers can afford (ones, not tens of thousands of $$). I'll be watching you by way of the website (a nice addition) and occasional newsstand purchases, but I'm skeptical whether a renewal will be likely unless the editorial gist switches to a "sub-rich-man" orientation.

Stephen Curling ('s picture

as with anything in te audio world its all based on theory...there nothin more powerful than knowledge!

Princess Running Bare's picture

Stereophile's equipment reviews can be improved with better editing.

barry yelvington's picture

more budget gear and reviews on whole systems

Ron Taylor's picture

More reviews of exotic equipment with an emphasis on compatibility and with comparions to other similarly priced gear would be nice. Stay away from reviews on home theatre gear since this is "Stereo"phile.

Ted W Jensen's picture

A good share of the equipment recently reviewed in your magazine is not available for audition or purchase at any of the audio dealers in my area. It has been a long time since I have read a review of any equipment in your magazine that I would consider purchasing. I would also like to comment on the music reviews. Since you have changed the format I have not found a single recording in your reviews that have interested me in purchasing them. Before the change there was usually one recording that was worth purchasing. The analog section by MF is usually a hilight of each edition although he tends to wander into areas that are sometimes disinteresting.

John Leosco's picture

Are components in the $3-12K range considered mid-priced or exotic? Either way, I would like to see the maximum number of reviews in this price range of equipment. Also consider doing more comparisons, either side-by-side, multiple, or within a manufacturers line. Publish compatibility with associated components, when appropriate.

Bob McNeice's picture

This needs 2 choices with equal weighting in my opinion - more equipment under $2000 (is this budget or mid-priced?) and more side by side's with similarly priced equipment.

Anonymous's picture

More double-blind comparisons using a large pool of listeners.

Kent's picture

As you always do, tell me what you hear! I still hold true to the idea that there are lies and DAMN LIES, specs are great for the engineers - I just need a live performance in my home. When a live performance spec comes out, I will still judge it by how it sounds to me.

Kring's picture

Sneak peeks into what is down the road.

Trevor Gilcrest's picture

Yes to everything listed above: more budget gear, mid-priced gear, exotic gear, photos of gear, bench tests, side-by-side comparisons, hree-way (or more) comparisons, three-way (or more) comparisons, electronic and acoustic theory, consideration of compatibility with associated gear, emphasis on reliability (French electronics-you know...), emphasis on upgradability, manufacturer's track record with similar products, and more links to manufacturers, more convention reviews, dealer reviews, record store reviews, and I want to read real science on matters of cables, pucks, eletromangnetic stabilizers, power conditions, green markers, and noise.

Constantine Klenkenko's picture

Although the existing reviews are interesting and contain useful information it is virtually impossible to know if that particular product will sound good in your own system. Reviews that compare known products would help in this matter.

Paul Pearson's picture

You review this stuff, but photos are rare. How about front, rear, and interior views of all equipment reviewed?

thai nguyen's picture

there are more that apply, but stereophile should review more budget priced gear.

Charles Henley's picture

Absolutely keep up the test results. It is what separates your mag from others (e.g, Fi, which I enjoy, but their lack of tests on equipment sucks!).

Dave K.'s picture

I'm still a student, and I'm only able to shell out a few grand for a system. I'd like to see more reviews and comparisons of budget gear. I would also really appreciate an attempt to arrange "good" combinations of products on the basis of clearly specified criteria (eg. "items A & B might be complementary items if you're looking for sonic characteristics C, D, and E") I know that's a tall order, and even a bit unreasonable, but I think that something approaching it would be quite welcome to many readers. Perhaps lists of reviewed systems could accompany the Rec Comp listings along with reviewer comments and suggestions for acheiving particular enhancements/adjustments. (I don't mean a thorough deconstruction of every review, just some notes/directions.) As I said, I'm a student; I don't have the money for anything but entry-level gear and I don't have the time to invest in going to every store and listening to every possible speaker/amp combination (even though I know that might be best). Every little bit of advice in steering me toward the right products and lines is both helpful and appreciated.

Mark Curran's picture

You should have permitted two or three choices---more mid-priced, especially interesting pieces, and less reliance on the obvious Stereophile bias of "more costly is better." The reviewers' attitudes have become so self-important in recent years, to the point of annoyance.

John Henshell's picture

2nd choice: more budget gear 3rd choice: more emphasis on reliability

Brian Wester's picture

I buy for the reviews, and, I would like to see more negative reviews. I just bought a component that received one of your rare critical reviews (JMW-12 Memorial Arm). What Fremer didn't like, I wanted. My last issue all sounded like advertising copy. Are you folks critics or Fifth Avenue types? I love the mag, but . . .

t.  dodge's picture

As an on and off subsriber for almost 20 years, I keep coming back for the same things: informative articles about the state of the art, regardless of budget. What I mean to say is, I love to finding out about the current "best" high-end, but also "budget." The subjective impressions are always helpful, as are the comparisons to other products I have heard. Also, please consider a return to "blind" testing, particularly with speakers. Thanks.

Paul W.  Simonic's picture

I read Stereophile for the columns of some of your excellent writers like Sam Tellig and Michael Fremer. I also read for information on tweaks and set-up, like Scull's new column. I also read to see the latest state-of-the-art (apologies to SOTA)equipment. When I open an issue and see reviews of ac line conditioners or cables or vibration control devices, etc. I sigh, and go right to the columns. Let's face it, an 8-page review of an ac line conditioner is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Yes, of course, if you are in the market for such a device, great, but otherwise I know it's going to be a boring article, and I'll skip it. Take your December issue. Barry willis reviewed 4 AudioPrism products, and Jonathan Scull reviewed ASC Studio Traps. Those components comprised half the reviews in that issue. Can't these devices be reviewed in smaller articles, perhaps one page. Maybe create a section called "Tweaks and Freaks" and dedicate it to such devices, thus freeing up valuable space for reviews of core equipment, like amps, speakers, preamps, etc. Granted, you have a responsibility to review as broad a spectrum of equipment as you can, but I also subscribe to Road & Track, and I skip over the articles on Buick Regals, or Honda Accords, and read the Ferrari and Porsche articles instead. Why? Because Buicks and Honda Accords, while nobody disputes that they fill a needed void by providing cheap, reliable transportation but are otherwise BORING vehicles. I want to read about stuff that makes me go "Wow, what a piece of equipment, what a masterpiece of engineering skill, etc." I know you will always find yourselves in a catch-22, because you will get complaints that you review too much unaffordable gear, why not more Rotel reviews, etc. But let's face some facts, it's the envelope that the manufacturers of $50K speakers and amps that are pushing the envelope that leads to better sounding $500 amps and speakers. Why does Porsche race? Two reasons: one is that as a manufacturer of high performance cars they must race in order to maintain their image, the second is that the technology they develop in producing a race car eventually filters down to the cars that people buy. I don't care if the equipment I read about is equipment I can never afford, just like I don't care about salivating over a Ferrari 550 Maranello either. The point of your magazine, just like any other similar publication, is to provide entertainment first, information second. Otherwise, you need to change your name to Audiophile Consumer Reports. It's just like that endless debate over your testing methods that keeps getting bandied about in your letter's section. Hey, all you anal-types: lighten up! It's just a magazine, which you purchase to be entertained, THEN informed. I don;t want pages of dry charts and statistics, with a review that culminates in saying the same thing every time, that's Stereo Review's job. I read the reviews just as much for the prose as I do for the specs. There, I feel much better now! Also, one thing I would do to be a bit more consistent is for any equipment reviewed (except speakers of course), there should be 3 photos: front panel, back panel, and with the cover removed. I can't speak for others, but I like to be able to decide for myself if something looks good, or is ergonomically styled, etc. You can get artistic if you want, but at a minimum, those three pictures should be included in every review. Again, not to draw on a car magazine analogy, but would you like to read a review of a Lamborghini, with no picture of the engine? In the high-end, like in high-performance cars, what's under the cover is often just as beautiful as the package that encloses it.

Robert Joe's picture

If you review a component in SGHT that turns out to perform well in an audio-only system, I would like to see an in-depth review of this component in an audio setup in Stereophile; e.g., how good a stereo preamp is the Theta Casablanca? Where would you rank this in "Recommended Components"?

nils lima's picture

I would like to see more compatable geer allong with more electronic and acoustic theory. I am having problems tuning my room.

Doug Ritchie's picture

I would like to see more detailed explanations of build quality. A blanket phrase or single word like "impeccable" is usually all that is said. After all, when we spend thousands of dollars on hi-fi gear, it should have no imperfections or blemishes. Having this gear sound fabulous can be overshadowed by a little blemish in the casing. So, along with the in-depth measurements, there should also be a sidebar stating visual imperfections as well. I realize that some components get nicked and dinged, especially when going from reviewer to reviewer. Every manufacturer must dread getting a poor review in Stereophile, because of the influence you can have on the public. I believe that if you gave high marks for sound quality and then stated that there were a few blemishes, it would drive manufacturers to put out an even better product. I would expect that you would take this to a high level of scrutiny.

Boris Afanasiev's picture

1. Stop binging in political correctness. 2. Start perchasing at least some components for review.

Bill Sikorski's picture

I could only choose one of the above, but RELIABILITY should ALWAYS be a primary consideration